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90% of the Game Is Half Mental: And Other Tales from the Edge of Baseball Fandom Paperback – March 16, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Emma Span's 90% of the Game is Half Mental is one of the most enjoyable, satisfying sports books I have ever had the pleasure to read. In a modern journalistic era pocked by snark and sarcasm, Span offers up a riveting glimpse at the absurdity—and splendor—of modern sports. Were this book a mustache, it would be Don Mattingly's—circa 1988."—Jeff Pearlman author, Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won!

"Emma Span likes bad movies ("Bats: Human Harvest"), terrible TV shows ("Walker: Texas Ranger"), and--from the perspective of this Red Sox fan—even worse baseball teams (the New York Yankees). But her zesty dispatches from the clubhouse and the bleachers signal the happy arrival of a new generation of baseball obsessives. I still can't bring myself to root for the Yankees, but it's easy to cheer for Emma Span." —Will Blythe, author of To Hate Like This is To Be Happy Forever

"An irreverent, affectionate look at the frequently obsessive, often irrational, totally committed mindset it takes to be a true baseball fan."—Johnette Howard, author of The Rivals
 
"Emma Span understands what it means to be a sports fan. She writes about baseball the way I wish everyone would write about baseball."—Will Leitch, contributing editor, New York magazine, author God Save The Fan

About the Author

Emma Span has written about baseball for the Village Voice, Slate, the New York Press, and popular blogs like Bronx Banter, among many other publications; yet when she appeared on Jeopardy! in the fall of 2009, she missed an easy question about Mickey Mantle (claiming that "the buzzer timing was really tricky"). She graduated from Yale University in 2003 and now lives in Brooklyn. This is her first book.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (March 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345501756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345501752
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,928,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you love baseball in its purest form, you'll love this book from Emma Span. I can't think of a better way for any fan of the game to get ready for a new season. I loved it.

Span's series of essays on the wonderful quirkiness of this sport; from the game's lovable and not so lovable characters, to the wild and wacky fans from coast to coast, to the strange customs (like sausage races in Milwaukee) seen in some venues; Span has a whimiscal spin on it all. This is a most enjoyable journey for any fan of the game to savor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan, and as such a longtime hater of all
things New York baseball, I am completely charmed by Emma Span and her love
of the game. Emma is a gifted writer and I look forward to much more by her
in the future. Her knowledge is deep, her anecdotes fun to read, and her
brutal honesty about how the game has impacted her life made me smile and
want to cry.

I can only hope that she is given yet another opportunity to channel her
passion into her day job again...even if it is in only in New York, where I
likely wouldn't be a reader. In the meantime I highly recommend this, her
first book, to everyone who has a love of the game.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good debut book although the beginning was a little hard to get through as the author spends too much time convincing us that she is an awkward nerd. Span also writes with way too many parenthetical statements, too much cliché humor and unnecessary use of curse words. She could have used a lot more attention from an editor, as the parenthetical nature of her sentences leave one wondering at the end of the sentence what the sentence was about to begin with. (There is even one paragraph that opens with a parenthetical statement.)

Span's big break comes when her mother's connection to the Village Voice lands her the job of sportswriter at that newspaper. This is a huge leap from writing blurbs for porno and other DVD's. Her account of her effort to fit in and do well as a novice female sportswriter in a male dominated world is sympathetic and engaging, and includes some interesting dope on New York sportswriters in general. There is a general sense, however, that Span is not sufficiently detached from her material, and at times sounds more like a snarky journalist on a gossip web site. Span's writing gains strength when she detaches more from her subjects, and gives us observations less tied to who she is than to the larger world around her. For example, her description of bits of Yankees history or her account of her visit to Milwaukee's stadium, are interesting and thoughtful.

She also deserves a lot of credit for putting her Yankee fan status at risk as she commits the unforgivable sin of criticizing Derek Jeter. She mentions his questionable defensive skills, states that when interviewed he sounds like a press release and claims that he has not said anything interesting since 1997.
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By John Durkee on February 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Blogger Span collects short pieces previously written into 90% of the Game Is Half Mental.... Her aim, as stated by her publisher is to describe what it means to be a baseball fan through these short pieces written on different experiences around baseball. I think she only partially succeeds in that task.

I found this book, at least the first half of it, to be a litany of her preferences about life and how she obtained them. The game of baseball is her canvas on which she illustrates those preferences. That would be a great idea were Ms. Span not such an uninteresting (by her own admission) person.

In other words, in this portion of this short work, I learned more about Ms. Span than I wanted to know. But, what I did learn was that Ms. Span has a good touch with the English language. Her work is pleasant to read even if the subject in sometimes uninteresting.

But, in the last five or so short pieces, the book comes alive with the sprit of what it means to be a baseball fan. She travels to Taiwan to understand and experience first-hand the depth of commitment to being a baseball fan that citizens of that small country are touted as having. In another piece she takes on the sabermetric baseball fan in an effort to learn what makes them tick without understand the math upon which their understanding of baseball is founded. These are good pieces - more about baseball fans, and less about one person.

Two stars for the work and an extra one for quality of the writing.
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By ROSE on June 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
I don't love baseball (except for the stadium-procured garlic fries), but I loved this book. Even though fans seem a little psychotic, it made me feel like I was missing out on something by not being one. Besides, Emma is absolutely hilarious.
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